Thursday, December 31, 2009

Putting life in perspective

It's funny how losing something you love so very much can put everything else in your life into perspective.

And if you don't mind I'm gonna be bluntly honest here. Growing up I had a few pets and I enjoyed having them around but they never became a part of our family, not by my choice but my parents weren't the 'pets in the house' types.

So fast forward till a few years ago actually almost 9, and my then fiance adopt our first furry baby. A beautiful Goldy Chow mix, so fluffy and just too darn cute. She gave us years of joy happiness, and love unconditionally.

So when she passed away in August I couldn't fathom how it would affect me and the deep hole that would remain. It truly was like losing a member of our family, like someone was missing, like we should be looking for her somewhere...

But it is also this loss that has put many things in my life into perspective, and while it has not too much to do with pet business', it has alot to do with life and how it needs to be cherished and lived with love.

So for 2010 my hope for anyone who comes across my little blog here that you:

Live Loudly
Create Passionately
And Hug Your Furry Family Members Often!

Monday, August 24, 2009

{Grieving As a Business}

I get that at first this may sound a bit off kilter but bear with me for a second as I explain. Since the passing of our dear sweet Orla(see Golden Retriever mix below on the left) on the 13th I've taken a somewhat different approach to life with our pets. This has been an overwhelming and difficult time to bear, and it has made me really realize and come to terms with what our pets mean to us.

It brought me to another point, and actually a business model that maybe as a pet parent or aspiring entrepreneur you have not considered.

When we lose a family member there are counselors, programs and centers that cater to the grieving heart. But what about when we lose a furry family member?? Where can we turn to for that type of grief? Yes it feels very real, and the hurt is the same, but for whatever reason the fact remains that not many programs are out there to handle this 'type' of grieving.

So consider this, if you're a pet parent, or pet lover and you've considered different pet businesses and have come up with nothing. Helping other cope with pet loss is a great fulfilling business model to try out. I would imagine that you would do so many people good that it could be a rewarding journey.

There could be many ways to spin the business model, and you would have to weigh your options with what you feel you're best at.

But I can tell you from going through this at this very moment, that having a considerate, understanding ear, shoulder and friend is truly something I would treasure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brochures, Postcards & Business Cards...You Got Em?

It's an obvious question really, but sometimes in the frenzy of starting your new pet business, getting anxious to launch, putting together your budget, spreading the word little things like marketing materials may fall by the wayside.

Although you may be budget bootstrapping you can still find creative and innovative ways to keep you fresh in your pet parents minds. I'll share some good resources and ideas that you can use or add to.

-->1. Prints Made - A fabulous website that I use often to print business cards and postcards. They have reasonable pricing and you can get your order sooner or later depending on your budget. If you can wait a couple of weeks shipping is on the cheap, if you need it sooner you may need to reconsider.

-->2. - Yet another printing alternative that I use to prints larger volume marketing materials. Pricing here is darn good for when you're ready to order in the thousands. I like these guys because turnaround is especially quick and when I want something I usually want it yesterday so these guys really deliver.

-->3. Print Your Own - Yes there are still ways that you can print your own handouts and still be professional. It really depends on your design of what you're handing out. Personally I like to dabble with Adobe Photoshop and make all of my materials myself. This saves me in paying someone else to try to get my design vision right, only to have to make costly revisions along the way. There is time involved but in the end for me it was always worth it. Make sure to get cardstock paper and not just regular printing paper. This type of paper usually comes in many different colors and is measured in 'lbs'.

For instance a good cardstock is 115lb, it's heavy and feels sturdy in your hands. I've never really been a fan of printing your own business cards, simply because I have yet to see any that truly look or feel professional. If you can pull it off, than by all means go for it, and send me a copy I'd like to witness it. Business cards are so affordable now that if you can have them printed, I suggest you give it a try.

Or you might even try printing your own postcards on cardstock then taking them to a FedEx/Kinko type place and letting them cut them for you. Since cutting is where we run into postcards that look like...well like we cut them. You don't want that as your marketing message.

Having ready, professional marketing materials is not just a great way to spread the word about your awesome pet business, it's a way to keep potential and loyal pet parents informed about you and what you can offer them.

Now what are you waiting for, get to printing!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Traffic Boosting via Contests!

Who doesn't like a contest or the chance to win something that is pretty cool? Well everyone does, and best of all contests are a great way to drive traffic to your shop or website and gain new customers along the way. Here are a few tips and pointers about contests that will put you ahead of your competition:

-->1. What You Want -- What are your goals you want to achieve from your contest? Do you want to get your customers to interact more, get more incoming links, get to know them a bit better, get them to spread the word about you or all of the above? Define these parameters before you launch your contest so you haved direction.

-->2. Choose the Prizes -- So you're gonna host a contest now you need prizes that will make your contest smokin' hot. If you have goodies that your customers clamor for, use your items. Or if you're feeling generous and creative get some sponsors on board to donate goodies in exchange for the publicity. Having awesome prizes increases traffic, buzz and in the end your brand awareness which is always a good thing for you.

-->3. Make 'em Work For It -- So yes you do want to ultimately give something fabulous away of good value because it is an investment that is worth it. But don't just 'give it away'. You gotta make 'em work for it. Encourage them to leave blog comments, tweet to others about it and post a blog post on their blog. You're giving something away and in exchange for that you're getting some traffic, buzz and putting you and your pet business out there.

-->.4.Let People Know -- Once you have your contest in place and live, now you have to let your customers, and potential customers know about it. Get on your social high horse and let people know. Tweet about it, Facebook it, send out newsletter shout outs and email your members, followers and friends. Don't forget to encourage extra entries when they spread the word on your behalf.

Contests are just one easy way to increase traffic to your website but there are several other ways you can do it too! Real Easy ways that are fun to boot. Get creative and explore your ways.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Knew Color DOES matter...

Now you may be wondering color for what? Well I'm talking in terms of Your color scheme for your business. You know the colors that will define your business, your image, your perception to your pet parents and what will help them to remember you better.

So what color scheme are you using? What colors have you chosen to represent your pet business? You didn't just choose random colors off of a color wheel did you? Ok let's just break it down a bit and see why colors could mean more than you might think.

It's been said that IBM has such great early success because of the soothing yet comanding color of the 'blue' that has now become know as IBM blue. Could this really be true? Well let's look a few quick examples and you tell me what's your first impression about these make-believe companies.

EXAMPLE A: Solei Pet Spoiling - This company provides high end pet sitting, spa'ing, and spoiling when you cannot. You hear about this company while eavesdropping on some chatty pet parents at the dog park. You think 'hmm maybe Spudd would enjoy something like this when I have to put in extra hours at work. You get a visual in your head of their website and are excited to see what they offer and their pricing. You go and Google or Bing them and are greeted with a pleasant and soothing website that is adorned with simple yet elegant backgrounds. The color scheme is a muted eggplant, with grey and white and you immediately feel ( fill in the blank)

EXAMPLE B: Dawgsome - Similar in services you find out about them at your recent trip to the vet. You once again go home and Bing or Google them, when you're greeted with a ultraviolet color scheme of lime green, magenta, and royal blue. You're finding it hard to navigate, not to mention it makes you eyes pant from over exertion! It's enough to make you totally forget why you sought them out and then proceed to click the little red box with the white 'x' in it! Gone, never to be visited again.

So briefly you can sort of understand why colors do matter. When you start on your petpreneur adventures there are so many details you have to consider that could make just the difference you're looking for. When you pick your colors, seek out a color wheel. Study which colors compliment each other and play around with them. Play with the for real too. If you can get paint sample strips in those colors look at them in front of you. Do they make you feel warm and fuzzy or antsy and anxious.

Now how do you want your pet parents to feel when they see your marketing materials, your website and your promotional handouts? Of course you want them to feel at ease, comfortable and warm/fuzzy. The exceptions are (they're always are) if you're in business to make your customers feel antsy, anxious or jitty than by all means choose colors that envoke those urgency and fun feelings, but still choose wisely.

Try this little exercise: Browse around the net a bit and pay close attention to color schemes. Notice what colors companies are using, it doesn't even have to be pet related. See how the good ones make use of color and make a note of that. If they're doing it right see 'what' they're doing right.

Choosing your colors is actually a fun aspect of your business that you should enjoy. I take that time to kind of go out there a bit and seek colors I wouldn't have thought of and see how they work, you never know what you may find.

And remember it never hurts to get opinions...don't live by 'em, but you know grain of salt 'em.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Kookin' up for K9's...Niche Idea #1

So you like to bake cookies, cakes and pies huh? Well there's a niche for that if you happen to be a pet parent or enthusiast and a whiz in the kitchen. Why not start a specialty diet bakery? You could offer yummy treats for sensitive stomachs, or diabetic pets.

Pet bakeries are another hot trend that you can start farely quickly with the right startup know how and informations. There maybe some bakeries already in your area why not offer your your specialty treats to them. It's a great way to get started with limited startup costs, and see if this pet business niche is a good fit for you.

You can start out with sample batches to share with friends and of course your furry member and see how well they go over. It's best to try it out first and get honest feedback, not the yeah my dog loved them from your friends - but honest feedback. There's no sense in getting that feedback if it's not genuine, you need the real deal. If Fido spit out every nasty bite ya need to know that. So encourage honesty with your samples.

----> Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point:
It's a good idea to get some proven techniques on this one, because you may think oh I bet chocolate cupcakes would be divine only to find out that it's not such a great idea to a doggies palate. Now this may not be true but you wanna be sure before you divulge your funds here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

And why is YOUR pet business soo special??

You have no doubtedly seen many other petpreneurs doing what you want to do or something quite similar.  And maybe you've nit picked out the things that you can do better, cheaper or quicker for Your clients/customers and that's what you're going for.  

But when it comes right down to it you need to, let me refrain, you Have to know what makes your service or products special and how to deliver this message clearly, concisely and with enthusiasm to attract your market. 

Everyone knows that is a new pet sitter, daycare and sweet shop opening up almost every week and chances are that if they don't:

1#  already have loyal customers

2# offer something unique, different, or special 

3# or have a budget the size of Utah 

they're gonna be hard-pressed to truly make a profit, or make enough to quit their day jobs. This is just one of those start-up facts. Yes it's true that there are exceptions to everything and if you are that exception: Congrats are in order. 

But most of us entrepreneurs need to work at being special, unique, and out sparkle our competition so that we can accomplish our goals and dreams for our business and ourselves.  

So let's take a look: What makes your pet business or service soo special anyway?  

Here are a few ways to figure this one out and then run with them!

1--> BENEFITS: Think about or write down your benefits to your customers.  Not that you've been doing this since you were 12, but that you can assure honest peace of mind when you're clients are away and have to leave their furry one with you. 

Or that you can give them picture text messages of their Bowser while they're on that trip to show them, yup he's ok while staying with "XYZ Petcare" 

2--> COMMUNITY: When your market 'sees' you in the community and sees that you're actively a part of where they live and with their community life they're more likely to remember you and look to you for their pet needs.  This could mean donating doggy treats to your local SPCA, or volunteering at your dog park once a month.  It's little things that you consistently do that will bring you more awareness and then more customers.

3-->LOYALTY:  Encourage your customers to become Loyal customers by providing a loyalty program, or encourage referrals with discounts.  Everyone loves to feel appreciated and loved so the best way to do this is by saving them money.  Offer discounts for new customers, and try a loyalty program that let's your customers earn points for certain products or services.  They can then use those points towards other products and services.  Showing the love and not just talking about it!

These are just a few but I know you can think of other creative and fun ways to give your pet-inspired business that Glow it needs to outshine your competition!  --No go SHine!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Launch Your Pet Business Succesfully -- GUARANTEED!

It's a pretty tall order huh? Guarantee your pet business launch success...well pet parents  it's pretty easily attainable, even in this economy and I'll share with you proven strategies that have already worked marvelously for me. I call it the GYCF Tactic. What does GYCF stand for? 

Get Your Customers First! Told you it was simple, but you would be surprised how many would-be successful entrepreneurs get this wrong, very wrong.  They don't seek out their customers, or even connect with them on a real, organic level.  They assume that what they have they will want and find it by a magic genie, or some other crazy notion.  Let's stop right here before you make this mistake. 
--> If you have a pet product or service that you think would be something that the community would want or need. Go Find Out First!  Start chatting up our friends, pet neighbors, family anyone who will talk to you about your brilliant idea.  Ask them key details like

*would you find this product or service useful?
*if it was available tomorrow would you buy it?
*how much would you pay for 'xyz'. (I like to start on a higher end and then work my way down if necessary for this part.)
*listen to them, really listen and read excitement cues, and body language this can tell you alot. 

Particularly people who love you, I say this because you don't want those close to you just telling you what you want to hear. If they light up with excitement or if they offer something like, 'yeah if I could buy something like that I would' that's the kind of feedback you're looking for. 

If you don't get these kind of results, it doesn't mean your idea is a dud, it could just mean you may need to tweek it before you move forward or put up any money.  It's been my proven success with finding my customers first that I can honestly say that this has proved invaluable for me.  

In fact I had customers before I even had an acual product! All I had was a handmade sample, and they wanted to buy that. It was then that I was confident to move forward.  

So GYCF my friends and prosper!

Monday, May 18, 2009

5 Fabulous Presentation Tips

And cue to the scene where your customer has just received your package.  He has the box in his hands ready to reveal what's inside..... excited and anxious he tears through it to find a plain white notecard, and your {insert product here}, at the bottom of the box.  

Awww what a let down, even though he loves your product the first impression from your 
presentation didn't hit that sweet spot that could've pushed your products into that warm fuzzy we all like to have when we open something up.  

What am I going on about? Why presentation of course, how your product is perceived and received when your customer reaches in, opens up or tears through your shipping container.  It's something that you may or may not have thought about but it surely is something to consider when you're wanting to stand out amongst your competitors and add a unique touch.  

I've always been a sucker for wonderful presentation. With all of my past and present business ventures I always make a point to take time to really consider my presentation. Here are a few things I take into account and ask myself:

-->1. What image am I trying to go for here?  Do I want to be conservative and sharp, or fun and colorful.  

-->2. How much budget am I willing to put into every presentation?  This should in my opinion depend on your retail price of that item.  If you're selling something that retails for $10 then by all means you have to get creative with your presentation because it should not cost more than $1 and that's pushin' it. But on the other hand if your product sells for say, $200 than by all means I say invest in presentation too. I'd be comfortable with $5-10 in presentation, and you can do alot with $5-10 if you've got a creative hair.

-->3. How much time do I have to invest in creating my presentation?  I included this because once you get hooked on creating stellar presentations for your products you may start to go overboard. Trust me, I would spend upwards of 30-40 minutes on my total presentation of just one of my diabetes accessory orders and I had to trim it down, because to fill 3 orders a night took me hours! Stay creative but not obsessive.
-->4. Try sticking to a coehisive theme.  And what I mean here is that if you're all about organic and natural products it's probably not wise to present your products in hot pink tafetta ribbons, and tulle. Just not a good look and will cause confusion for your customer.  Think of your presentation as just another extension of your overall look and theme of your pet business. If your color scheme is brick, grey and white, keep this in mind for presentation as well.  

--> 5. Does it photograph well?  Reason being because people like to see what a gift wrapped product may look like coming from you.  Plus you can play that up on your site as well, that all of your products come beautifully assembled with [insert your co name here] gift wrapped flair.  Some presentations photograph very well while others take a little finessing a bit. Play around with yours and see what great shots you can get.

Most of all your presentation should create that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when something is beautifully wrapped, or just has an added personal touch.  Don't feel like you have to go and buy tons of ribbons, bows and paper here either. Presentation can be a cute hand-written note on top of your products, or just a gift tag that expresses thanks for being a customer/client.  Keep it simple, but don't forget that 'wow' factor!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

*Be Careful of Success*

Yes you read the title correctly. I said 'be careful of success'. Why? Why would anyone want to step lightly into the golden path of success, or want to gently tip toe into the uber world of 'makin' it'? 

Well I don't want this post to be a downer but more informational, I'll just share a mini-saga so you can see what happens when success slams you in the nogin and you're not quite ready yet. 

What is success to you? Is it living debt free, or traveling without a care in the world, or maybe splurging without a care to the cost?  Well for your pet business or startup success could mean finally quitting your job, or hiring your first employee, or hey maybe even stroking that very first check to no one other than 'YOU'! 

Or maybe you dream of Oprah overnight success slams. Where she may gracely mention that her dogs only walk with your collars and leashes on.  What would an Oprah mention do for your business, products and/or services. Well from past Oprah mentions we see that those success slam stories come one of a couple of things. 

-->One they're ready for the slam, and they thrive to heights they never dreamt of and are 'the rest is history' stories.

-->Or two they're totally not ready for the slam and just as quickly as they became, they're no more! What we're trying to avoid is this nasty number 2!  

A huge order of 20,000 units would be a fabulous victory right? Well that depends. Think about 
that for a second. Do you have 20,000 of anything just lying around waiting to be sold?  No, didn't think so. So what would you do if 20,000 units had to be shipped to say Target by August? Do you have the budget to float an order of 20,000 units? Do you have a manufacturer capable of doing 20,000 unites by August. Or even 'worse/better' if you're an indie pet business meaning you're doing it all alone, can YOU produce 20,000 units of anything by August?  

Do you see where this is going fast?  And now can you see how a huge order of 20,000 seems like your pie in the sky dream, but could spell overnight bankruptcy too?  Now if this isn't something that you're pushing towards, than this post probably doesn't apply to you a bit. 

But if you want to someday have a thriving company that only needs you for 'big important' sign-offs and decisions' you're gonna need to think this through.  

--->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Plan:  Start by having a step by step plan of action in place for growth. This could be just a list of things that you can implement rather quickly to get a large job done, to your standards and within a reasonable amount of time. You don't need to go an hire a huge contractor tomorrow but you may want to research and poke around a bit and see where the good ones are. Check references and look at their track record.  

Have a plan to leverage your budget or make the most of it in a situation that may require it later. For instance if you're working on an upfront payment basis now with a contractor, try to build up some credit with them now, so that should a large order come a knockin' you can work out terms with them to get the job done! Most companies will work with you if you have a strong payment record with them. 

Yup, I know not the most uplifting post, but one that you cannot just turn your shoulder to. If 
you're looking to grow as you should be, than consider what growth and success could mean for you and your pet business.  

And hey this is actually good news, because when that success slam does come gonnit you'll be ready and be the next super success slam story --- and the rest is history! 

Want my .02? I'd love to share I like doing that!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Getting Your Pet Business Noticed*

So you've got your website, your products are on the 'shelves' and you're ready to take over the pet world.

Well how do you get pet parents to see you, or get attention from media and press? You can start with a press release. What you don't know how to write one? Well hop aboard because if you wanna save budget funds you should really consider doing it yourself. On the other hand if you have the budget and really dispise writing outsourcing could be your best option.

Personally I've done both, and truth be told I'm most happy when I know that what I wrote is out there creating buzz for me and getting me the features I want, which in turn get's me the customers I'm looking for.

So we'll briefly go over what a press release should do:

First it should answer the 4 w's and 1 h -->who, what, where, why, and how questions that all media, press and bloggers want to know.

You should have something 'newsworthy' to say --> If you're starting a high-end pet boutique, so is about 100 other petpreneurs, but if you're starting a high-end pet boutique that offer's custom puppy spa treats that could be newsworthy. You want your pet business to stand out someway.

Use the numbers tactics --> The 'numbers list' seems to work nicely to create media buzz. ie.-- 10 ways to train your new puppy not to chew the house, or 5 ways you can calm a high-strung ferret. This technique uses information to direct curiosity seekers to you and works well if done correctly.

Use controversy --> Did you just dig up some juicy pet controversy? Talk it up in a press relase, the media love controversy. Or does your product go against an industry standard, but works? Use it, this is a sure way to get your email busting with feature requests, and of course customers!

Of course this isn't the only way to go about writing a press release but can surely point you in the right direction. Search out some press releases, (don't copy) but take direction from well-written ones, and then put yours together. Getting the attention of media and press is one of the cheapest ways to get your brand and products out there to your pet market. Use It!

and hey want my .02? I'd love to share it. --> Take our 3 question survey for our newest service launch :

Thursday, April 30, 2009

{Why Your Pet Business Has Gotta Change to Thrive in this Recession}

Now hear this, if you're already doing a bang up job with your pet business than maybe you don't need to change anything, keep doing what you're doing. In case you're strugglin a bit, or if you're just starting out traditional methods to survive and prosper generally won't get you very far in today's volitile market.

Now don't get too discouraged because different doesn't mean out of reach. The pet industry is still a wonderful industry to be in, but you may have to re-think your business model and how you plan on achieving your goals.
Here are a few quick tips to consider for your game plan:

-->Fine Tune Your Customers Wants: When was the last time you really listened to what your customers are saying to you directly and indirectly? What do you really offer them? If you sell gourmet doggy treats what do you [sell] them? Peace of mind that your treats are organic and good for them? Or if you offer daycare and walking what does that service mean to your customers? Fine tune this USP, or Unique Selling Point. This is what will set you apart from your competition and fine tune you into your customers.

-->Providing Something of Value is Always Good Business: It's no wonder more millionaires were made during the great depression than any other time in history. Because during this time savvy entrepreneurs jumped right in and delivered great products and services and took advantage of the lesser startup costs, and the ability to take care of their market. The common misconception of 'hard times' is that people won't spend on nothing but necessities. Well we already see this isn't true, and what else is that if you're providing something that is seen as a value, or something that fills a comfort need you can still do quite well. And this also means that when things do pick up, as they have shown to always do, you would have positioned yourself in your market as the go to product or service and we all want that!

-->Re-invent Cutting of Expense: You've probably already heard that trimming in the areas of marketing and advertising isn't really a good idea. So what do you do to trim, well how about not really trimming but re-inventing. Maybe you've always sold through your website, how about changing things up a bit to re-invent yourself to you market. Why not offer personal service or products for your local customers? You could deliver products or maybe run a neighborhood pup party. Get creative with your customers and change things up to attract more customers and change how your current customers see you.

Thriving in this economy is not as hard as you think, having a good mindset, a great business foundation, and products and services that your customers truly appreciate will keep you thriving and moving toward your goals!

hey want my .02, I'd love to share I like doing that!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Naming your pet business

So you're at the point where you'd like to give your 'ah ha' moment a name huh? Well this could be the easiest hour or the longest, depending on your focus. Naming your business should be 
enjoyable, because you get to envision your business name in 'lights' or being said by people. But a misstep here and it's major headaches-ville.
I've listed some ideas to get the creative milk flowing, all you need to do is grab what you can use and go for it!

Here are a few quick tips to naming your new pet niche business.

-->Think shorter rather than longer:

Good: Diggs Dog Spa

Not So Good: Patty's Cute and Furry Fun Pet Care Place

Remember in the age of information overload a long drawn out name will most certainly be dismissed and forgotten. And if you're looking to directly make your name into a domain name you would be hard pressed to find anyone willing or able to remember phew it even takes a long time to type, so keep that in mind. -> short and sweet<-

-->Make sure it's not taken:

There is nothing more disappointing then spending half a day on your wonderful new pet business name only to find someone else is already using Your wonderful pet business name! Do yourself a favor, go to Google and type in your ideas for your new name, if only bits and pieces of it come up in blog posts or websites you may be in luck. ->check to see if it can be yours<-

-->Register It Somewhere:

If you're sure about your name and you want to make it official, you may want to go and register it. You can do this by going to a domain name hosting and registering company. This way you will 'lock up' your domain name if you don't have a real website yet. You can always go back later when your website is done and anchor your domain to it. ->Register It<-

-->Don't waste weeks over your pet business name:

Seriouly while your name is a pretty big deal, you shouldn't be lingering over it for weeks at a time. If you're stumped ask for help, if you're just out of ideas, ask for help or if you're just 
clueless, get out and get some fresh air. Your brain may just need a re-charge and a good walk with Buster could be just the dose you need. ->No dilly dallying<-

All in all your name should easily say who you are or what you do, or embark a feeling if possible. Sometimes you can get it all in a name other times you just cannot. But don't get discouraged there is still plenty of options still waiting on you to choose them. Make your name your own.

Hey want my .02? I'd love to share I like doing that!

Friday, April 24, 2009

*Savvy Ways to Attract Customers & Clients for Your Pet Business*

So you have:

*Your pet business website launched --> check

*Your business cards printed and ready for distribution --> check

*Your excitement in hand to finally be doing something you love --> and check.

You're all set up raring to go, when you notice that after a few months of your 'grand opening' you're not really seeing any traffic or business for that matter to your new budding pet business. What do you do, what did you do wrong and why haven't 'they' come?  
Well hot shot there could be a couple of reasons but we'll just look at a few ways to bring in some happy, returning customer/clients.

-->1) Form alliances with complimentary pet business owners - Key word here is complimentary.  If you sell rockin doggy collars, you may team up with an organic doggy bedding company.  Ask if you can cross-sell each other's products, or point customers in each others direction.  You can be casual about this too, maybe one of your product pictures with you pup wearing your collars, and lying in a beautiful pet bed could be used as a plug for your new alliance. And vice versa.  Be creative about this, as it can become very beneficial for both parties involved if done correctly.

-->2) Blog, Blog, Blog - You've heard it before but you need to have a blog and you need to post to it at the least once a week.  Blogs with search-rich keywords in the heading will be easily found in the major search engines.  What's important in a blog, well whatever your readers want to read about. You, your company, news, fun stuff, pictures of your business or products. Referrals to other cool sites, products, and/or reviews.  If you're concerned about time, outsource your writing.  There is also some great tips that I use too. (psst want to know them, join the BBP :)

-->3) Contests & Giveaways & Discount Codes - Everybody likes free stuff, who wouldn't so why not offer free samples to customers, people in the neighborhood walking their dogs, or known animal lovers?  You know that the pet lover community is very warm, and when you're giving stuff away, you're instantly 'in there'.  

--> 4) Team up with pet-friendly apartment complexes, and vets - Most apartment complexes that allow pets have a newsletter that they distribute to their residents weekly or monthly.  Why not go to them and offer their residents a discounted rate for your services, or a discount code for your products in their newsletter with your banner or ad?  Most apt complexes won't even charge you to do this, and if they do try to bargain using  the discount for their residents angle. :)  Same goes for vets. A lot of vets are doing newsletters now too, hook up with some local vets and ask if you can leave samples and a well-packaged product or business cards. Again get creative here for your best outcome. 

Customers are just like you, so think about how you'd like to be found or approached.  Keep all of your marketing materials and samples professional and you'll present your business is an upbeat manner.  

--> Don't chase your tail action point: Check your brochures, business cards and handouts. Are they bright and happy or dark and depressing does it represent your company well? Does it all have a coesion that is well-represented?  What about pictures, are there pictures to grab attention. Make sure this is all in order, you may be a small business, but you don't have to appear that way! 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Secret to Pet Business Success Is....

Well it's many things. It's the right industry, a market looking for what you have, it's a great network, it's a great set of skill sets, it's a support system to keep your head up when you can't, it's friends, business know-how and on and on.  But how can you possibly seek all these things without losing your mind, or worse losing your focus?  

Easy peasy. You can head on over to the only social community dedicated to wonderful world of 
pet business ownership! The Bark Business Park!  I've created a social community that will provide a warm, and friendly haven for those who adore animals and who have turned that passion into a thriving business.  

So you haven't actually started yet, no worries the BBP can provide you with tools, tips and resources to get you on the right path, and give you the confidence and push you'll need to launch that wonderful idea of yours!  

The idea behind the BBP is to grow a community that will be full of fresh, informative ideas, success stories, tools, resources, and plenty of opportunities to connect wth other petpreneurs and grow/or launch yours!  

The community is private right now, until we work through all the bugs, but we'd love to have you as a beta member/tester to give it a whirl!  

Wanna invite? 

Leave a comment, shoot me an email or click the links above!  Can't wait to see you at the Park! 
p.s. you can invite others too, the more the wagg-ier:)

Warm Wags,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

*Green Pet Products To Check Out*

If you didn't know it already there are tons and tons of fabulous green and earth friendly pet inspired companies today that will help you and furry family members going green in a fun and stylish way.  These companies are fully into their pet business niche of helping other pet parents and businesses to go green.  We've sniffed out just a few but do a Google search and see what You can come up with!
**Happy Earth Day**

Dapper Collar by Eco Pup
constructed of re-claimed people ties

Lavender Canine Shampoo
all natural ingredients, easily rinses, low lather

Align Center
Strawberry Shortcake Catnip Toy
hand-stitched using orgnic catnip

                 Pet Food Storage Canister
   you can have 'cat' or 'dog' on yours

Wanna suggest others? Leave a comment, be sure to include a like* Share.

Warm Wags,
Ms. Bark Business -Rickina

Monday, April 20, 2009

3 Hot, Under the Radar Pet Niche Business Ideas

You know starting a pet business is right for you, but you keep thinking 'but I want to do something different' something that not very many businesses are doing.  Well you're in luck, we've scrounged around a bit to bring you 3 Hot Under the Radar Pet Niche's that might suit your fancy.  

New niche's are being created everyday, and with an open-mind and a knack for seeking them out you might just find your goldmind. But until then here are 3 to spark your creative brain juice:

1* Senior Dog Refuge/ Senior Products --> Every cute little puppy eventually turns into an aging senior dog and there's no doubt about it, the love for that aging family member just grows stronger with time.  So it makes sense that the growing population of older pets still need care and specialized attention, love and products to keep their aging days as happy and as comfortable as possible.  If you love the slower pace of being around an older dog or pet than this niche may be perfect for you.  According to Modern Dog Spring '09: The need for dog refuge camps, and housing is growing so strongly that Judith Piper owner of Old Dog Haven was hesitant to even have her business featured.  Because of the crowd of people looking for a place to have their senior pets.  

The need for specialized products for the aging pet community is growing too. You could become a Senior Pet comfy retailer - specializing in all things to make the senior pet comfortable, and happy in their old age. Or anything that makes caring for them easier for the pet parents.  

2*Green Pet Housing --> Are you a whiz with a saw, hammer and nails. Do you see the art in things that others may call junk? Well you could have found your calling.  In a world where going green isn't a trend but a way of life you could fair well with designing and/or building pet housing constructed out of reclaimed stuff.  Think, old barrels, drums, filling from mattresses etc.  If you have a knack for contructing something from nothing this could be the pet business for you.  If you're really creative you can treasure hunt the supplies, and then share the background with each work of green art with the new owners.  

3*Relaxation/Massage --> Do you have a way with your hands, or do you calm a high-sprung cat or dog with just a touch? Why not use it to your advantage and offer mobile, pet relaxation and massage. It's proven that with the right touch you can produce healing like endorphins and release that can calm even a high-spirited pup.  You could then offer in tandem natural and organic products as a plus. Or maybe you would fair better as a teacher of massage. Surely some pet parents would love nothing better than treating their pup to the wonder qualities of massage themselves.  You could then, do weekly classes or sessions to teach the latest tricks and techniques to your pupils.  

All in all finding your perfect niche is about seeking out what is your passionate driver and turning it into a business that even if you were not being paid to do it, you will still spring out of bed everyday because you enjoy it that much.  If you don't have that driver the other 'boring' stuff might slow you in your tracks to success. 

Hey want my .02? I'd love to share it, I like doing that!

Ms. Bark Business - Rickina

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Will Work For...Free*

I've been thinking of ways to really reach out to the pet business startup community and offer what I've learned launching my niche business and help them in ways that I needed when I launched. With so many people charging for things they can do for free I thought why not give something away for free for once?
And I thought why not offer small things that garner big gains in confidence and business! So I'm officially opening up the doors to the Bark Business - Freebie Shop.

If you'd like assistance with:
** a custom Twitter background

**getting started with Twitter

**getting media opportunites

**starting a blog

**staring a e-commerce website

The Bark Business - Freebie Shop is for you --Now here's the catch, but it's not a big one:)
-------> THE CATCH, in return we just ask that you let others know we're Freebin' you, and how it's helping. Like Twetting about it, posting to your blog whatever helping us let others know about Bark Business.
A link to us or something would be cool too, but not required. And we ask that you let us share your comments and feedback on our freebies, Deal?
But we won't do the Freebie shop forever, so you gotta get on the bus soon -secure your seat!

Interested? Great, email us info[at] We cant' wait to get started!
You can also comment, and say 'hey I want in'

Do you 'Socially Sell' or 'Smack Sell' on Twitter?

You're probably already familiar with the notion that social communities and networks are truly gaining virtual speed and are changing the way people communicate, socialize and meet new freinds.

But do you understand how business owners can find new customers, clients and eventually sell to them without feeling pushy, or tacky? Well there is a way, but unfortunately not many business owners or startups are doing it correctly. But are approaching these new more relaxed outlets as the old way of advertising and marketing. And if you're one of them, it may be why you're not seeing the benefit from these social outlets.

Let's start by looking at the 'Smack Sell' - definition - those startups who join social networks who just forcefully push their products, services and crap onto others with no clue as to what their Smack Sell is doing. And if you're not familiar or maybe you think 'well I'm not doing that' lets just look at an example.

---->Example #1 - You just joined Twitter and you think ok all I gotta do is just tell people what I'm doing, or what I'm eating, and what I'm selling and I'll get all the customers I can handle" or " I'll just follow thousands of people and they'll follow me back then I'll make tons of sales" uhh Wrong-O & Wrong Again!

If you join Twitter and you go on a Follow Spree to find people you'll probably be ignored rather than getting immediate follows back. If you're following 500 people and only 25 follow you back, that looks suspect or you're doing something wrong.

If you join Twitter and you just keep posting like this: @smacksell We have a sale this week come check it out http://..sdkskjlslk.crap/ @smacksell we just launched a new piece of useless crap go take a look blah blah.

This is a big No-No and a turnoff, people don't care what you're selling.

Now let's take a look at the right way, what I like to call the 'Social Sell' - definition - the business who is joining a social community to commune with like-minded people and genuinely foster fun, interesting connections and friends - which later, orgnically could lead to more sales, and better loyal customers.

This will feel familiar to you if you're already working this way, or maybe you should take note if you're a 'Smack Seller'.

---->Example #2 - You join Twitter and you're thinking I want to find some interesting people who like me enjoy the companionship of their pet, or who also have started a business inspired by their pet. Here's how to get started the Social Sell way.

You start out by going to search twitter and finding others talking or tweeting about pets. Read their tweets, go to their website ,if they have one and find something neat to tweet with them about. Keep it genuine and real, if you do a fake tweet it's obvious and it's not cool, so keep it real :) People like to talk about themselves and if you compliment or can relate on some level that has nothing to do with pushy selling you're one step ahead of the crowd. Plus this way is much more fun and feels more natural...try it out. Eventually when people see that you're real and looking to make genuine connections, curiousity will drive them to learn more about SALES, yes glorious warm Sales!

Or think of it this way: --->Fade to Real-life Scenario --- you're taking Sam your Beagle/Poodle to the off leash dog park and you're excited because you're in the startup phase of your Mobile Doggy Nail Clipper service. You're armed with business cards and your pitch. And a perfect opportunity is walking right toward you. ***WRONG WAY*** you then whip out your business cards while saying "hey, I just started a mobile doggy nail clipping service here take my card" Ridiculous right? Well that's what Smack Selling is, it's tacky and just doesn't work very well.

****RIGHT WAY***your opportunity is walking toward you again and instead this time you say "Would you look at that, your puppy has the same designer collar and lead that Sam and I use, where did you find yours? ...Really I'll have to check that website out sometime". You then notice after a few lines of dialouge that Pugsy's nails look like they need attention, you then go into your warm pitch.

So I bet you can see how this is really just a progression of taking your face-to-face skills when meeting new people online. No big secret people enjoy connecting, and being online is no different.

Now go forth and be a Social Selling Butterfly/Dog/Cat or whatever your fancy...

Want my .02? I'd love to share it I like to do that!

Warm Wags,

Ms. Bark - Rickina

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Viable Pet Market | Offering Something of Value

So you're excited, geeked even about this new idea for your pet niche business, one that will allow you to enjoy your 'Freedom Venture' and do so while enjoying something you're truly passionate about.

When you're at that point of 'thinking and deciding' on the direction to take your bright pet-inspired idea there are a few first points you need to keep in mind. And not many 'pros' will fill you in on this one, but it's quite important and needs to be properly addressed, here goes.

1) Your 'Freedom-Venture' is what you newly created lifestyle would look like if your new business was a well-oiled machine, fulfilling, successful and most importantly profitable. Would you simply create another 'job' that you do all by yourself, essentially not really living a true entrepreneur lifestyle.

Or would your business have a clear and predicatable path that it chugs along, that repeatedly makes you money while you still have plenty of 'Freedom-Venture' time? My guess is that you're gonna want this one. Well you have to think about this in the very beginning, sort of like goals but more of how it will all look once you're there.

Not just a bullet point of a goal scribbled on a notepad, but what would a typical morning look like, a week, a month?

2) Now that you have that cleared and well-defined you need to ensure that your market is strong and large enough to support this lifestyle you've mapped out for yourself. If you want to be able to say visit Anatayla, Greece next week, your market needs to be able to sustain those jaunts. But if you just want to be able to pay for your pets extra-curricular activites than your market doesn't have to be that large.

But this is an important factor to consider because you really want your market to sustain your goals, and you really need to make sure what you're offering is something that they find valuable and worth opening up their purses and wallets to.

There's no doubt about it, if you offer something that is useful and your market finds value in it, you'll find that selling won't feel like selling but more like offering or sharing. On the flip side of that is that you'll get paid for that...Sa-weet!

---->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: Hop on and just plug in keywords you would use if you were looking for your product or service. For instance if you're selling athletic gear for dogs and their parents, you may want to look for dog parents who jog, or dog parents who train with their dogs, you get the idea. If there is lots of blogs, companies and just stuff out there on the topic you could be onto a viable market. Next is to find out that 'pain spot' for them, are the leashes or leads insufficient, or is stopping for 'the business' a hassle. Find the market, understand the pain and then hone in!

Want my .02? I'd love to give it, I like doing that! :) email me*

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You've Had The Ah-Ha Moment Now...

You may be thinking that the next step is to dive right in feet or head whichever you prefer first. Well hold on there now, just a minute.
A lot of people that are new to the petpreneur/entrepreneur lifestyle will want to go full throtle and get their product made, out there and make the big bucks, but there is a critical step that you should take to ensure your success. Wanna know what it is?
Of course you do because you want to succeed at this thing called business. Well here it is, it's pretty easy just so you know upfront.

----> Secure Your Customers First<----

That's right, you have to, you need to, Secure Your Customers First! Even before you have a fully functioning and complete product or service structure you should really take the time to learn all you can about your customers. They're the ones that will make or break your business so it would be in yours and your future businesses best interest to know who they are and where you can connect with them easily (read for free).
So many 'just getting started' entrepreneurs totally get this critical step backwards, and I'm no exception here my friends. I too fell victim to this on many-o-launches and I gotta tell you it showed about 6 months or less into the venture. Without connecting with and really understanding what it was that my customers wanted from me or needed, I was sunk before I could shove off. Not sure what I mean here's how you feel when it's happening:

**You're excited your product is complete and you know you're gonna get some customers because you're so excited and your confidence is through the roof, this will be great you think. Then two months later, you're wondering why am I sinking in product with little to no customers, you feel defeated, and burnt out. ** Have you been there yet, or are you going?

Snap out of it! Launching your pet-inspired business doesn't have to be this way, you can take another path. No it won't be all easy peasy, but you can eliminate some of this emotional and physical heartbreak by simply finding and connecting with your customers First*

---->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: here's what you can do right now. If you're not on Facebook, or Twitter go sign-up now, it's free and takes just a few minutes. Get a blog, and update it at least weekly, this will help you to get a 'following' of potential customers reading what you have to say.

Remember the lifestyle you want won't fall into your lap, you gotta work for it!

*And if you have a question or want feedback give me a *woof* and I'd be happy to give my .02! I like to do that :)

~Ms.Bark - Rickina

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And you know you Have to have a website right??

You've heard it a million times and a million more. No matter your business you need a website of some sort. Even if you don't sell from there you absolutely must have one, there's no excuses anymore. Gone are the days of spending thousands of dollars on a flashy, hyper-designed website.

Nope today you can launch a website with e-commerce for FREE! Yeah no kiddin', and if you can get your hands on some backgrounds, or know how to play with photo editors you can really jazz things up.

So for this post we're gonna give you some Don't Chase Your Tail Action Points right away, because your website isn't going to launch itself, it clearly needs you to DO SOMETHING! Ok so let's go:

----> Big Cartel -- You can launch a Big Cartel website in literally a matter of minutes and be accepting new customers in a day or two (with the right launch anyway). I played around with Big Cartel and loved the ease of userbility and the fact that I don't have to know any html code whatsoever! Yeah none at all, so don't freak out over that. But I will tell you that knowing a little html like how to make a picture a link is pretty easy stuff and comes in handy later on *wink, wink*

---->Flying Cart -- Another easy to use and set-up alternative. I told you there were options out there when you wanna build and launch your site. I messed around with this one a bit too, and found it was easy to use and pretty fun to add in my stuff.

---->Wix -- Now this one I haven't tried just yet but I would be happy to just go in there and play around a bit. I kinda like that sorta thing. But the templates look top-notch and if you're really hooked on having some flash on your website looks as if you can have it here too. This one also features several cool add-ons like using your own domain name (ie

Here are a few other points to consider:

* When you've finally taken the plunge and you're going to design your site and lauch it, please do not make the mistake of keeping the moniker. It screams, I didn't want to spend $7 a year to buy my domain name. And we don't want that do we?

* Although time-consuming you probably shouldn't stop with just a website, a blog is also a great way to pull in traffic directly from big deals like Google, Yahoo etc. For some reason and I'm sure the SEO gurus can detail this for you, the search engines like to grab your blog and throw it high up on the search pages. So make a note, a blog is generally not a maybe option. -- if you want help with it there are people for that :)

* Transperancy is a great way to show your customers and visitors you're a real person and not some ghost vying for their attention or their wallets. Do so by adding an 'About us' page, 'Contact Us' page and how to best reach you. While some people will be against giving out your cell number or an address, I'm not. I think when people know that they can call me, it gives them piece of mind. So share, you can also opt for a prepaid cell phone too, if that makes you feel better :)

*Keep your site looking Professional, nothing says I don't know what I'm doing like a poorly designed website with elementary school colors and poorly done graphics. You know the kind the graphics look grainy or worse blurry! C'mon now seriously would You buy something from a site that looks like that? And the navigation menu is just a stream of categories running all the way down the page??? Please, please don't do this, it looks cheap and tacky and you don't need to stand for that. You can design a modern, professional site for next to nothing, you have no excuses!

---Need any advice or feedback on your design? Let me give you my.02! I like to do that :)

Pet Industry Trends for 2009 - Must Read

If you're even thinking of starting a pet-inspired business this year, you need to know the trends to look for and to monitor.  Use this article as a guide and then take what applies to your situation and run with it.  

2009 Pet Industry Trends

---->Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: Be diligent in finding what pet parents want that you can offer them.  If you're good at behavior in pets, go with that. If you're good with styling them, go with that.  Pick something you're passionate about and drive it home.  Go get your idea book - go on- and write down 5 things you're passionate about. Don't think too hard, just think about what get's you all spun up and your heart it now write it down.  Now think creatively how you can apply that to little Buster or a neighbor dog or cat or pet.  This is a good place to start! 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Another Pet Business Niche Idea For You

You already know that a niche is a specific targeted market that is under-served and is a potential gold mine for the right entrepreneur but in the pet business your niche can really catapult you into the stratosphere.
When picking or choosing your niche one of the things you'll start to think of first is 'what niche should I choose?' And rightly that's a good place to start. Here are some pretty good pet business niche ideas that you can start and run from home for$1000 or less.

1) Pet clothing/accessories -- You've seen this one before I bet, dogs cats and even ferrets decked out in the cutest tees, jackets, boots and hats. And it's big business. If you are someone who likes fashion, or clothing you may hit the jackpot here. There are wholesale suppliers that you can source and find great deals to stock your web store. The key here is to get specific and make sure there are pet parents looking for what you're gonna supply. For instance if you do pet tees, check around to see who all offers tees and how you can stand out from them. Maybe you can do pet sparkle tees, or tees that match a tee the parent can wear too. Or maybe you can do leashes and leads that are posh and upscale with Swarovski crystals or that are fashioned more like belts the parents wear.

2) Pet Hygiene -- Pet hygiene is something that not many pet business niche's concentrate solely on, what this means for you the aspiring pet startup is that if you can become a pro at pet hygiene you can offer these services for a premium and then grow in your own right. Yes you're right most vets do offer this as a service but you can bet that they'd rather concentrate on the higher priced services and this is a plus for you, because you can find vet's that want to get away from that and partner with them to get leads and referrals.

3) Pet Taxi -- So you own a big gass guzzling suv and you're wondering how can I cash-in on this pet niche thing? Well how 'bout offering your suv as a pet taxi service? You could offer 'rides' to the vet, or pickup services from appointments like the groomer or from the spa. You know today people are busier than ever and if you can offer a service that gives them more time in a day you're in business. You'll need to check out your local laws for this one and insurance details to make it legit, but after that all you have to do and look and find. As a pet owner you probably already know where pet parents hang out. Make some flyers and cards to that they know how to find you and what you can offer.

----> Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: Here's what you can do TODAY to get started. Visit some pet boutiques in your area, see if they specialize in a particular item, if they do see if you can specialize in something that maybe they don't do so much in. Get online and checkout some suppliers and what their requirments are to get an account set up with them. Many times all you need is to sign-up with them to get an account. Sometimes you'll need a tax ID number and this is easy to get too.

Remember you have to get out there and claim your lifestyle and freedom it will not be neatly placed in your lap! Go Claim It Today*

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Niche that is Recession-Proof

It seems that even though Americans are skimming on other luxuries, Fiffy and Fido are still getting the royal treatment.  In 2008 alone American's spent 43.2 billion according to the American Pet Products Association, those little endulgences for the furry family member are still holding strong.

What does this mean? Well for you the startup or the one waiting to leap it means that the endulgence pet business is still growing and doing pretty well.  A New York deluxe boutique called the Le Chien recently was quoted saying, "People are not exactly buying the mink throws or alligator collars, but they are still coming for the grooming every week and the toys," said Edward Alava, who has been a manager at the shop for more than a decade". Grooming at Le Chien starts at $125 and most patrons add on services like hot oil skin treatments and teeth-cleaning. According to an article in the Daily News | Money.

----> Don't Chase Your Tail Action Point: So to take action on this market you need to do a few things right now!  Research--> Is there a market in your city or neighborhood for luxury spa pet services? Look through your yellow pages and see.  If so go and check them out, see what services they offer and at what price? Can you do it, or do it better, cheaper, or faster, or with better pet-customer service?  What about their product offerings, can you find some unique items they don't carry?  Or maybe you could capitilize on something their missing.  These are things you can do TODAY to get started.  

Remember your new life and the freedom it brings will not be handed over to you, ya gotta work for it! 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Welcome to Bark Business!

Bark Business is your guide to pet business startups. If you're looking for a way to bust through the recession and start creating the freedom and flexibility that owning your own pet business can bring, you're surely in the right place. 

We scour the web, pet business veterans, and other startups to find you all the new, relevant and useful articles, products, and resources to make your launch a successful and fulfilling one.  

It's no secret that owning a pet-inspired business is a great match for many pet lovers, but what you may not know is that there is a world of opportunity right in your neighborhood. All you need is the right network, tools, and community, and  you'll be on your way to providing great products or services that they'll appreciate and come back for.